Edinburgh The City of Festivals

Today’s guest post comes to us from Andy Hayes, also know as the Edinburgh Guide. Offering up great Edinburgh tips and advice, be sure to check out the Edinburgh guide blog before your next trip to the Scottish capital — including exclusive tips for navigating the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world’s largest arts festival.

Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh is a busy place throughout the year – at some point in the history of Edinburgh, someone thought it would be a good idea to combat our fickle and sometimes torturous weather with a series of festivals. Now, I think the city is deserving of the title City of Festivals, because nearly every month you’ll run into a festival or two to spruce up your visit.

Here’s the low down on some of my favourite festivals; if you want to check out the full festival calendar, head on over to Edinburgh’s Inspiring Capital website.

Beltane Fire Festival, End of April – I love the Beltane Fire Festival because it’s a good excuse to wander up onto Calton Hill at night – the views are stunning. While yes, I would agree that the antics of the fire festival performances can be bizarre and downright rude, the fires blazing along the National Monument makes me feel like I’ve travelled back in time to some ancient ritual performed by the Greeks. And to feel the searing heat and squint into the bright flames of the bonfire at the end of the show is a treat not often experienced here in Edinburgh. (Note: This is not a family-friendly event.)

Edinburgh International Film Festival, mid-June – Edinburgh’s film fest is a real gem for me because it features so many good indie features from our various European neighbours. Other festivals tend to show off big blockbuster hits with many of America’s major stars, but here in Edinburgh the focus is more on cinematic quality and top notch cinematography. The venues that host the festival as well – particular the Cameo and the Filmhouse – are such cute and cosy movie houses, I’d recommend a stop there even if the festival isn’t on.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August – Any festival-related text would be remiss not to highlight The Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival. The city is literally transformed – sometimes I still don’t believe it myself – into a bustling metropolis twice the size of normal and every empty space all over town becomes a performance venue, which does add to the serendipity but sometimes these cramped, hot spaces aren’t always the ideal choice. The Fringe has so many acts it can be really overwhelming – don’t worry so much about it, just live in the moment and ask around for a recommendation. If you’re on a tight budget, go to the half price tent next to Princes Street and Waverley Station in the afternoon for discount seats.

Hogmanay, end of December – What would any self-respecting city do when the winters turn cold and daylight becomes sparse? Hold a party, of course. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (an old Scots word for New Year’s) features fireworks, a German Christmas market, loads of amusement rides, and plenty of merry good cheer. Grab your warmest coat – but keep in mind it’s not that cold – and head here to celebrate Christmas in Edinburgh style.

For more information on Edinburgh, be sure to check out the Edinburgh Guide – hopefully we’ll have it covered. If you still can’t find what you need, you can contact me, I’m happy to help.

Photo credit:  raymccrae @flickr

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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